St. Luke's Sewing Ministry

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
March 2, 2015

Betsy Bornholdt is the Staff Resource for Communications and Outreach at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, as well as a paraprofessional a few blocks away at Sunset Terrace Elementary School, in Rochester, Minnesota--and she has a gift for vision and mission. Her two jobs put her in a unique position; she is able to see needs firsthand at the elementary school, and then match those needs to resources and gifts of parishioners at St. Luke’s. 

With a goal of reaching out to meet the needs of families within their immediate neighborhood and city, St. Luke's Outreach Working Group has undertaken numerous worthwhile and life-affirming causes, and the group’s work this year continues this trend. Betsy noticed several students at the school with winter outerwear in need of repair—especially so, given the intensity and length of the winter. Many of the garments, though torn, could still be good for the year if they were mended or underwent small repairs.  Buying new is not always an option monetarily for many families, and neither is it always a logical option, knowing that elementary students could likely grow out of items before the next winter. Betsy also noticed that many of the small nylon bags children use to transport books were frayed and ripping. In order to make it through the end of the year, these would also need some care and repair.

Knowing talented sewers at St. Luke’s, Betsy thought she could possibly recruit parishioners who had sewn for other projects to take on this ministry. She explains, “I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I proposed my idea to administration. They thought it was great.” The call went out. After enlisting the help of talented parishioners, they met with school administration and set up a date. After their meeting, the school sent home a permission form that would allow the parishioners to mend personal clothing.

When the appointed day came, Betsy sought to make it quick and easy for volunteers to bring in their sewing supplies and get comfortable.  As the sewers sewed, she ran around from room-to-room picking up and delivering items to their owners.  It went very smoothly and in the end, they had mended 17 snow pants, four jackets, four sets of gloves, one hat and 160 reading bags! The project was a rousing success, and especially so, given that it was their first attempt. Given the importance of the work, they hope to offer the sewing outreach services next year as well.